Head of engineering for Donald Trump’s Truth Social reportedly quits as blank-cheque company DWAC agrees to $18m SEC settlement
The head of engineering for Trump Media & Technology Group, which operates Donald Trump’s Truth Social social media app, has reportedly resigned, in the latest challenge to beset the venture.
Meanwhile blank cheque company Digital World Acquisition Corp said it has reached a settlement with the US SEC that could allow it to move ahead with its planned merger with TMTG as a means of taking it public.
Alex Gleason told Reuters he was leaving TMTG to focus on a start-up he founded called Soapbox Technology, which provides open-source technology for decentralised social media platforms that operate on independently run servers.
TMTG hired Gleason in 2022 to adapt Soapbox’s technology for the Truth Social app and eventually used Soapbox as the front-end for the platform when it launched in February of that year.
In October 2021 TMTG said it would go public via a merger with DWAC, but the deal’s closure has been delayed by investigations by the US Justice Department and the SEC.
DWAC said on Monday it has agreed to pay a civil penalty of $18 million (£14m) to settle the SEC probe, although exact terms have not been finalised and will need the SEC’s approval.
The company said the agreement would “remove the cloud of uncertainty lingering over DWAC and would allow DWAC to move forward in achieving its objective of delivering a strategic merger”.
It added that failing to reach a settlement “would create a substantial risk of protracted litigation…which could inhibit the Company’s ability to consummate the business combination with TMTG”.
Social media ban
Truth Social was founded after Trump was banned from a number of social media platforms, including Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, in the wake of the January 2021 riot that led to an attack on the US Capitol building.
Trump has since been reinstated on most of those platforms, although he has not returned to Twitter, and is legally obliged to post content on Truth Social six hours before reposting it elsewhere.
Meanwhile Truth Social’s growth has been far below what TMTG projected in November 2021, when it told investors the app would reach 56 million users by 2024 and 81 million by 2026.
The platform currently has about 607,000 monthly users, according to an estimate from Similarweb.
By contrast, the Twitter-like social network Threads launched earlier this month by Facebook parent Meta has by some estimates already reached about 150 million users due in part to its built-in links to the Instagram user base.
Trump had about 5.71 million followers on Truth Social as of 18 January, compared to more than 88 million on Twitter before his suspension.